Occurrence of Subclinical Tumor in Excised Facial Subunits

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ObjectiveTo determine the incidence of subclinical tumor in excised facial subunits in patients undergoing reconstruction after Mohs surgery.DesignThe study group comprised 45 patients who had their Mohs defects repaired by a facial plastic surgeon at a tertiary care center (university hospital). In the group, there were 74 biopsy-proved cutaneous neoplasms of the face. The median age of the group was 67 years. Nineteen patients (42%) had multiple tumors. There were 63 basal cell carcinomas (85%) and 11 squamous cell carcinomas (15%). Forty-seven tumors (64%) were primary and 27 (36%) were recurrent. Reconstruction of the defects was based on the principle of aesthetic subunits. Excised subunits were examined by the Mohs surgeon. Further excisions were performed, as necessary, if tumor was present in the subunit.ResultsFive patients (11%) had subclinical basal cell carcinomas in their excised facial subunits. Four patients underwent further resections.ConclusionsIn patients with severe sun damage, recurrent tumors, and a history of skin cancer, clinically normal tissue excised during the reconstruction of their Mohs defects may contain subclinical tumor. Consequently, when these “high-risk” patients undergo reconstruction, excised facial subunits should be submitted for pathologic examination.

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